Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grilled Pizza

When we were in Cape Cod, my friends and I attempted to save as much money possible by making all of our dinners at the house.  One of my favorite and most memorable dinners was when we made grilled pizzas.  My friend Brittney and I both love to read food blogs (just check out my blogroll on the right) and throughout the summer we saw many, many posts that raved about how much better pizza tasted when it was grilled, so we thought we should give it a shot since the house came with a grill.  The dinner was a huge hit, probably even more so than the lobsters and steak we had another night, and everyone had a really fun time making their own pizzas.  I wanted to recreate this experience with my friends at home before the summer was over, so I chose the last day of summer to host a pizza making party at my house.

Our bracket
The day actually started off with a tennis tournament I organized with my friends.  What started with a group of four people who played tennis last summer (not including myself) has turned into a huge clinic where more experienced players will help each other and battle each other in heated matches to see who is the best.  We had mentioned doing a tournament this summer so we could figure out where everyone ranked, so I found out what day of this past weekend worked best for everyone, ranked them based on how well they performed over the summer, and set up a bracket so that people could play against each other to see where they ranked amongst our friends.  We're a pretty competitive bunch so the tournament was a huge hit.  One of our friends has this amazing knack for tennis so he crushed everyone 6-0 or 6-1 (we only played 1 set per match), but everyone else who fell in the middle of the rankings had some really amazing and intense matches.  All in all, the tournament was a huge success and we hope it will become something we can do at the beginning and the end of the summer annually.  Needless to say, after a 4 and 1/2 hour ultimate practice on Sunday and a three-round tournament yesterday, my legs are completely destroyed.

Alright, so back to the grilled pizza.  When planning for your grilled pizza party, the first step is to make the dough.  Here is the recipe I used for the dough:

Pizza Dough
Makes about 3 pies

- 1 ½ c water, lukewarm
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 ¼ oz packet)
- 4 ½ c flour
- 1 tsp salt

Pour packet of active dry yeast into lukewarm water and whisk with a fork until the yeast is dissolved.  Let sit for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast. 

Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and form a well in the center of the flour.  Pour the water into the well and, using your hands or a dough hook on an electric mixer (not a beater!), mix the flour and the water together.  When combine, transfer half of the dough to a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, not sticky.  Repeat with the second half.

If using immediately, place the balls of dough in a bowl.  If not using immediately, the dough can be placed in a plastic bag or Tupperware container in the refrigerator for 48 hours or frozen.  Do not leave uncovered if placing in the fridge or freezer. 

Adapted from: The Kitchn

Sticky dough - not what you want
The dough is going to be incredibly sticky when you first combine it with the water, kind of like a giant wad of bubblegum.  Do not despair!  When you're kneading it on the floured surface, just continue to work flour into the dough until it no longer sticks to your hands.  When the dough is ready it will be smooth and not tacky.  It is also easier to work with the dough if it is in a smaller portion, so be sure to work with only half of this recipe at a time.  When I tried to knead the entire batch of dough, the outside would be smooth but the inside of the ball would still be very sticky.  This recipe makes a lot of dough, but you can always freeze it to be used at a later date, or to be used immediately if you have to make 11 individual pizzas...

The next step is to make the sauce.  If you have read even one food blog this past year I am sure you have read about this pasta sauce.  Food bloggers have obsessed over it and how something so simple could turn into such a rich, velvety sauce.  It's three ingredients: crushed (or whole) tomatoes, butter, and an onion that sacrifices itself for the sake of the sauce.  You cut an onion in half, place it in the pot, and then throw it out at the end.  So in actuality, this sauce is just tomatoes, butter, and essence of onion.  This sauce is so simple you will wrack your brain trying to figure out what makes it so tasty.  Just accept it, and make this sauce.  Oh and to make this sauce even better, if you use crushed tomatoes rather than whole ones, you can skip the step in which you stand over the pot and crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and just plop the ingredients in, set it on low heat, and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes.  I honestly cannot get over how easy and delicious this sauce is.  It worked great as a pizza sauce but can of course be used on pasta.  And please resist the urge to throw in a sprinkle of sugar or dried herbs or minced garlic when making this sauce.  You want to make it as is and once you do, you'll be very happy you did.

3-Ingredient Tomato Sauce

- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1 onion, ends cut off and halved with outer skin removed

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan and place over medium heat.  Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then lower the heat so the sauce is barely simmering.  Simmer for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

The third step is to make the toppings.  Here is a very special note about the toppings: any toppings that need to be cooked need to be cooked ahead of time.  The pizza will be on the grill for about 10 minutes and it cooks from the bottom up, so it will not cook raw meat or poultry.  If you have any vegetables, like onions or mushrooms, that you would like cooked, that needs to be done ahead of time too.  Once you have all of your toppings, set them up in plates or bowls on a table near the grill.  This will make the grilling process much easier. 

Now that you have all of your ingredients together, the final step is to grill the pizza!  Once everyone arrived, I called them into the kitchen and gave them each a ball of dough about the size of a baseball.  Everyone used a different method to spread out the dough: some of them pulled it apart in their hands until they got a rough circle while others flattened it out on a plate.  When you flatten out the dough it is going to look small and thin, but keep in mind that the crust is going to rise a lot and it will be very filling, regardless of how small it looks on the plate. 

The left side of the grill is on medium-low heat,
the right side is on medium heat
After everyone had their dough ready, we took the party outside to the grill.  Next to your grill, have a bowl of olive oil with a brush, the pizza sauce, the cheese, and two spatulas.  When you heat your grill, heat one half on medium heat and the other half on medium - low heat.  This will make sense in a minute.  Have the first person put his/her dough on the medium heat side of the grill, and don't worry it's not going to fall through the grates.  Once the underside of the crust becomes browned and slightly charred, flip it over to the medium-low heat side of the grill (at this point the second person can start their pizza).  You want the pizza to finish cooking on the cooler side of the grill so that the toppings have time to meld together.  Because the pizza cooks on the underside only, you want to add the cheese followed by the sauce, meats, and veggies.  This will make sure the cheese gets nice and melted.  Remove once the underside is browned.

Have the toppings ready to go!
The grilled pizzas were well received by everyone.  Grilling the crust makes it extra crispy, something that is hard to replicate in an oven.  Plus the whole process should only take about 10 minutes per person, so having your toppings ready and your sauce and cheese next to the grill will help ensure that you get everything on your pizza before it's done cooking.  If you're having a party, it's a really great interactive way to include everyone, plus it can be used for any age group.  My 20-something friends contributed some really delicious toppings, but younger kids will also get a kick out of making their own dinner by hand.  I know summer is over, but for those of you who are still in denial like myself and are cringing at the pumpkin and halloween recipes on everyone's blogs (come on guys, it's September 6th), it's a really fun dinner to make with friends and family.  Enjoy!


  1. Grilled pizza, yum! Sounds like fun time with friends!

  2. Great pizza and such a wonderful sauce. I love that you and your friends are so competitive. This post is fabulous, really enjoyed reading this.

  3. This is really great. I have never tried this but I am going to...soon.

  4. I LOVE cooking on the grill, and this recipe sounds like a yummy new one to try! It looks and sounds delicious!

    Thanks for linking up to Point of View!

    1. Thanks for hosting! The pizzas were super easy and fun to make; a great summer activity :)


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